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The U.S. Government May Plan To Monitor Your Video Game Console

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Posted April 9, 2012 - By Stephen Johnson






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HACKERS movieAccording to a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. Government may begin searching through Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii consoles in search of criminals and nere-do-wells of various stripes.

The governmental types believe that easy access to your console hard-drive will allow the authorities to catch pedophiles and terrorists who use their consoles to engage in illegal activities. Privacy advocates, on the other hand, are concerned with law enforcement over-reaching and breaching privacy.

Obscure Technologies, a San Francisco-based company that performs computer forensics, has already earned a $172,250 research contract to develop ''hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video-game systems'', and ''a collection of data (disk images; flash memory dumps; configuration settings) extracted from new video-game systems and used game systems purchased on the secondary market'."

Right now, the project is exploratory, so "They" are probably not tapping your gamertag yet. As Obscure Technologies president Greg May says. ''It will be interesting to see, because it's new to us as well. A lot of this stuff hasn't been done. We're not sure how complicated it is.''

A fascinating wrinkle in the story: Unlike your PC, console makers have already built in pretty good encryption to prevent piracy, so (the speculation goes) in order for the FBI and others to check out the inside of your machine, the console makers would have to agree, and help out. The question: Would they do it?

Also: It's pretty easy to install spyware monitoring apps on your PC too, where you can't just do that for your console, so you're more at the mercy of the decisions of the console makers.

Another question: Does it even make sense? It makes sense that pedophiles would use games to try to talk to kids, but I'm not so sure about terrorists. It's relatively easy to encrypt communications on PC, but with a console, it would, seemingly, be much harder. Although, as far as establishing connections between criminals, it might be useful to see who you've played games with, and it might make sense to establish a timeline, too. Still, I can't help but think any potential snoopers who looked into my Xbox would only learn that I'm terrible at Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Source: The Age

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